I read this book in the reverse order. After I finished the first in the series, at the end of the book, I was offered access to the prequel, which I immediately took up and, since it was a novella, finished it in one sitting.
I will obviously talk about the prequel first.
Anthony Quayle is a government servant. He is happy with his job but has had suspicions that people are looking at him strangely. To quell possible rumours he has heard, he decides to find the actual culprit for the treason that he is suspected of. That is how we meet our lead protagonist first. He bumps into a dead body during this search, and he is now embroiled in a whole other mystery.
It was not hard to find the right suspect in this narrative. All the clues point directly to it, but it is the way the story unfolds that is the main draw. The writing, the people’s introduction, and the investigation are quite entertaining.
It is a short story (as previously mentioned) and lays all the appropriate groundwork for what happens next (or, in my case, what happened first). I would recommend reading this first since the next is more complex and feels more concrete. This is a good start, but the next is even better. I would also recommend actually reading this and not skipping it because it gives us an introduction to why Anthony Quayle might be in the awkward position that he is in later on.
I received a copy because I signed up for the newsletter by the author, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.
The actual first book in the series has Mr Quayle in a secretarial position to a man whose son he once knew and might owe his life to. There is more there than we are told in this book. It remains to be seen what the author will do with that thread and whether I will like it. There is an air of secrecy and anticipation in the party that is ongoing because of a possible announcement by the Earl. It is in this setting that a body of a possibly unknown woman has been found, killed by a dagger from the Earl’s connection. Mr. Quayle has been tasked with helping solve the situation before the police and ensuring the family’s good name. If the prequel was more fun because of the way the narration progressed, I enjoyed both the plot and the voice here. I found myself breezing through the book, highly anticipating the next turn. The setting is well done with the family well introduced that they all stand out as individuals. There was a time when I realised that I used to like Agatha Christies more than many of my classmates because I enjoyed the interactions amongst the suspects (and almost suspects). The things people said and did were what drew me to the books. The mystery itself was a very (very) close second.
I highly recommend this book to people who like historical mysteries with an emphasis on people and the whys and wherefores of the behaviour. I was quite surprised by the twist at the very end. I was not expecting it and that is the bonus that I took away from it. I eagerly await the next.
I received an ARC thanks to Netgalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.